Michael's Reviews > Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
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Dec 04, 13

bookshelves: 2000s, fiction-that-speculates, most-popular-reviews
Read from February 25 to March 06, 2010

``Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. -- I assure you the anti-gravity hoverchannel is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.''

Eliza was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. She unstrapt herself from her leather seat restraints and stood, careful to maintain her balance as the airship encountered turbulence. When she entered the hoverchannel, she activated the polarity redistribution magnets within her combat suit and began floating comfortably around the perimeter of the foyer.

Miss Bingley's attention was quite engaged in watching Mr. Darcy's progress through his book, so much so that at one point she nearly navigated the ship into the side of Pemberley; and she was perpetually making some inquiry.

At length, finally exhausted by her tenacious attempts to force a conversation regarding his book, Darcy relented. "It's entitled Boneshaker. An American novel."

"What do you think of it?" Eliza said as she drifted by.

"A bit nonsensical, really. Steampunk claptrap about the Civil War going on much longer than it actually did, which caused technological advances that didn't really happen until much later. And a zombie-infested city called Seattle. It has been blocked off from the rest of the country, and our heroine must go in to rescue her foolish son."

Mr. Bingley crossed the room, his steam-powered mechanical legs stomping their way across the carpet to the cabinet where he refilled his glass. "Zombies in America? That does sound quite silly. Everyone knows that zombies are native to Britain. That's how I lost my legs."

"Please, Bingley, don't tell us that old story again," Mr. Hurst said, adjusting himself on the sofa before falling back asleep.

Darcy said, "The plot moves along at a good pace, but the characters are a bit uninspired. A teenage boy constantly doing something inadvisable; the protective mother, blasting zombies and trying to save him."

Eliza smiled. "Darcy, certainly you aren't saying literature is full of strong female characters who run around rescuing male characters."

"Nor should it be," Mr. Hurst said, drifting slowly in and out of consciousness.

Ignoring Mr. Hurst's interjection, Darcy said, "I suppose the fairer sex aren't shown in powerful roles that often, even in these books written in the far future about the distant past . . . er, or perhaps about the same time as now . . . When were we written?"

Miss Bingley inquired, "Are you sure the dinner agreed with you?"

"I feel fine, thank you," Darcy said.

"Admit it," Sherlock Holmes said, standing in the doorway, Watson at his side. "You enjoy all the fashionable gimmicks flying left and right, and the pace keeps you entertained. Yet you wonder why nothing surprising was done with any of these elements."

Darcy moved over as Holmes sat on the sofa beside him, lighting a pipe. "You're right, Holmes. The whole reinvention of the Civil War is fascinating in theory. Then the author does nothing with it. The book has nothing to say. No reflections on the civil war, racism, or politics. Nor does it say anything about the true nature of zombies. In fact, it says little about love, which is the very heart of the story."

J. K. Rowling, refilling her glass of zinfandel, said, "And it's practically a young adult novel, isn't it? Other than one or two mildly violent zombie moments and one four letter 'S' word, this could be the next film from Pixar. There's not even a gay sorcerer to throw off the prudes."

Darcy met Eliza's eyes as she orbited the room. "Have you read it as well, Miss Bennett?"

"Braaaains," Mr. Hurst moaned softly.

"I found it diverting," Eliza said. "I always read the books nominated for the Nebula awards. But, like you, I found the novel didn't meet my expectations. When you look beyond the stylish trappings, you have a run-of-the-mill adventure story written in a workmanlike fashion. I imagine the query letter was spectacular, though."

Darcy was on the verge of speaking when Mr. Hurst lunged up from the sofa, saliva splattering from his vicious maw, his eyes sunken in and rolled back into his head. He lurched across the room toward Bingley, whose back was facing him.

Eliza kicked off of the wall and rolled over to Darcy, pulling his pistol from his belt, and fired several rounds through Mr. Hurst's head. A splatter of blood, brain and skull chips showered down on Harold Bloom.

"Well," Mr. Harold Bloom said, wiping blood from his face and wiping it on the sofa, "that was entirely unnecessary, but what HASN'T been? The whole book review is sound and fury, signifying nothing. And how many times is this hack going to parody Pride and Prejudice? He seems to think it's much more funny than it is, just as Oscar Wilde thought himself hilarious, when he is in fact highly over-esteemed."

Holmes puffed his pipe, a gray cloud of smoke rising above him. "I can't believe I didn't notice Mr. Hurst was turning. Usually I'm so attentive to details."

"Nobody's perfect," Darcy said. "Would you mind putting that pipe out? We are in a zeppelin, you know."

Holmes sighed and stood up, pulling on his overcoat. "I'm going next door to the Kurt Vonnegut review. Pipe smoking is encouraged over there."

And as Holmes left the room, suddenly the review stopped.
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Reading Progress

02/25/2010 page 45
10.82% 1 comment

Comments (showing 1-50 of 59) (59 new)


message 1: by David (new)

David Because you started the review with a quote, I thought you were quoting the book. Then I didn't notice the end quote. I didn't realize that metagoofiness was your review until about halfway through. Well done, sir.


Michael I do my best to be meta and sneaky with my quotes. And I try to incorporate exploding heads into book reviews whenever possible.


Luke Zwanziger Oh man, I loved this review. I've been looking for this book to read, but your review has somewhat dampened my spirits. Perhaps I will still read it, but I will not look for it as fervently as I might have before.


Michael Yeah, it's a fun read, so I wouldn't discourage you from giving it a go. But, go into it expecting just a fun read, not necessarily something to really knock yer socks off. I had some really high expectations, and that made me a little harsher in my review than I could've been.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Nice. Very nice.


message 6: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Fantastic!


Michael Thank you! Thank you!


Brad I'm beginning to think there're as many fanboys/girls for P&P in the thirty-fortysomething goodreads set as their are fanboys/girls for Twilight and Potter. Not that there's anything wrong with that (since I am one)


Michael Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised, Brad. Of course, I'm younger than that crowd, for a couple more years, I guess one more year...by the gods, that's scary.

Then again, I think P&P has fanboys/girls of every age: my mother is almost 60 and still reads all those trashy P&P spin-off novels. She has a Jane Austen action figure as well, which earns her quite a few litgeek points. And my little sister was about 16 when she started working her way through all Austen's work...I don't know if that alone qualifies her to be a fangirl, but she's somewhere in the borderlands there.

But it is more of fanboy/girl mentality than people have for a lot of other old, dead authors...that's the only explanation for the endless stream of new film versions and spinoffs and P&P&Z and S&S&SM, etc.


Wicked Incognito Now well, you completely took me out of my auto-pilot daze of reading standard reviews in which I try to decipher if THIS reviewer's or THAT reviewer's opinions might match my own.

Well done.


message 11: by Jonathan (new) - added it

Jonathan HAHAHAHAHAHAH. This review was both more entertaining AND more informative about what the book's actually like than any other! I'll move it down my to-read list; it sounds less like my thing.


Michael Thanks, April and Jonathan! I'm doing my best to quell the over-hype going on with Boneshaker...The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a hell of a lot better if you're in the mood for a modern-sorta-steampunkish book that rocks.


Wicked Incognito Now I'm actually reading The Windup Girl right now. So far, really excellent.


Autumnmoon LOL. This review is awesome.


message 15: by Miss Clark (new)

Miss Clark Fantastic review - Thanks for making it interesting.


message 16: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow I HATE IT BECAUSE I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT ENOUGH!!! But also I liked it because I can tell it's smart. Is it entitled "Pride and Prejudice and Boneshaker"? I'm glad you decided to hop onto the Austen mashup bandwagon. Someone should be on there to keep the kids in line.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

LOL! Amazing. Thank you a million times for writing this review.


Michael Since it has your vote, Meredith, I know you don't REALLY hate it, and I'm no longer so excruciatingly offended by your lack of regard for my feelings. That is, in fact, its name!

I don't think it's meant to be totally understood, though. As long as you understand it is brilliant and funny, I am happy.

Thanks, Tk! Glad you liked the review.


message 19: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow AHHHH. I SEE. IT IS SOME SORT OF DADA META-COMMENTARY. *snaps* Sweet. Whew that I got it because, as usual, it totally was brilliant and funny. I'm glad I could rectify that horrible offense.


Miriam Nice. But I think if you are going to bring in Bloom he needs to make an obligatory classics reference. Unless you are thinking of Leopold rather than Harold.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Unless you are thinking of Leopold rather than Harold.

Then there'd be a pooping sequence.


Michael The lack of clarity regarding the Bloom has been fixed. It should now be apparent I was talking about ORLANDO Bloom.


Miriam Then the classical allusion is definitely not called for.


message 24: by Caris (new)

Caris If this review is so old as shit, why is it showing up in my update? Is god telling me to read it? Good going, god.

Are all zombie books set in Seattle? That dumbass Married with Zombies was, too.


Miriam I think practically everyone in the entire world got sick of so many books being set in London and New York. Seattle is the new hot locale.

But in this case, I believe Priest wrote the book soon after moving to Seattle from the South (where her earlier books are set).


Michael If this review is so old as shit, why is it showing up in my update?

It might not have been god's fault. It might be because I did some editing and forgot to unclick the box. Miriam wanted more clarification on which Bloom was involved.


Miriam Michael's review is the Platonic form of satirical fanfic mashup, and thus exists outside of time.


Michael Ah, ignore my answer. Miriam's answer is clearly right.


message 29: by Caris (new)

Caris Michael wrote: "It might not have been god's fault. It might be because I did some editing and forgot to unclick the box. Miriam wanted mor..."

But whose hand guided your own, you arrogant bastard?


Michael Well, it must've been Satan. I thought that was self-evident.


message 31: by Caris (new)

Caris And whose hand guided his, you arrogant bastard?


message 32: by Aoi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Aoi Really? Was this an assignment?


Michael Really? Was this an assignment?

Alas, this was what my brain told me was the best way to review Boneshaker. It might still be my weirdest review, but I sincerely doubt it.


message 34: by Flail (new) - added it

Flail Around ... That was fun! :D


message 35: by Emma (new) - added it

Emma Laughed very very hard at this. Well done. XDD


Michael Thank you kindly!


message 37: by Josh (new) - rated it 2 stars

Josh This review is better than the book.


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) I read this too, along with the next two books in the series. They're definitely fun reads, the idea behind them always sounds fabulous, and the writing isn't bad,however I have found Cherie Priest's characters utterly lacking. Of the three books I have read, two were primarily about the relationship between family members, but you never really got a sense of a real relationship there. None of them had any real romance to speak of, either. Priest really seems to hesitant, or possibly incapable, to write about love. Although given the sap-infested piece of YA fail that I am currently reading, maybe I'm grateful.


Michael What I don't understand is why she keeps making that the crux of her stories when she doesn't seem very skilled at fleshing it out. There are lots of possible plots out there, parents don't always need to go saving their children and showing how much they luuurve one another.

I think this whole book would've worked if the relationships in it had worked. But, I'm hugely influenced by how much I understand and like the characters...I even like books where nothing happens, as long as the characters are intriguing.


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Me too. I didn't realize it until fairly recently, but good characterization is definitely the key. If they don't feel like real people, I will be so BORED. Or if they're real people, but the kind of real people you can't love or sympathize with. Sometimes a love to hate character works, but they need charisma, for sure. This is why I hate The Forest of Hands and Teeth so much. What a disappointment those books were.

For good characters, I will look past some weak plotting or questionable writing. They're number one!

I think the best of the three Cherie Priest books I read was the second one, Clementine (which is nigh impossible to get), because it was just about a lady spy and a dirigible captain going off and being adventurous. No family drama.


Michael A good friend of mine recommended the first FOHAT book, but he said the second wasn't so good. That's somewhere near the top of my to read list, so I'll let you know whether I agree or not sometime this summer...if I get through as much reading as I hope to, anyway. The book has a fabulous title, if nothing else.

I'm thinking the second one was a novella. Is that right? If so, I may give it a read if I come across a copy. I definitely won't go out of my way to track it down, though, even if it's better than Boneshaker.


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) The second was a novella and you're not very likely to come across a copy. Tor wouldn't publish it, so it was some small indie job with a limited run. When I looked, a copy of it was completely ridiculous in print, something like a hundred bucks. It looks like it's only 60-some now. Yeah, right.

I bought the Kindle version for 2.99, because I had ARCs of the first and third in the series, and it makes me go insane to read things out of order. If you have a Kindle, I could probably loan it to you, but, as you mentioned in regards to something else, there are always better things to read.


message 43: by Meghan (new) - added it

Meghan awesome. read this and chuckled, *applause*


message 44: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Thank you for such a fun review!! It was informative, yet wildly entertaining. Well done!


Michael Thanks, M and Melinda! I'm glad you both enjoyed it!


message 46: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Wilson Funny, I especially like Holmes, "Usually I'm so attentive to details."


Erica (daydreamer) This review was rather brilliant. Highly entertaining ;)


Michael Thank you! Glad you liked it!!


message 49: by L'Poni (new)

L'Poni You, sir, have written the best review that I've read in this over-polluted wasteland of recycled popular books. The words you melded seem to give birth to a flash story, and I value this rarity-of-a-review. Sir, get away from Goodreads and publish some short stories for the commoners. They need you more than they need those rehash books.


Michael Lol, thank you, Nipaporn! I have trouble writing anything between the length of the book review and a novel--and I have serious problems with declaring a novel "finished"-- but if I manage to, I'll let you goodreaders know.


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